Face Masks

Last updated: May 27, 2022

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KN95 masks and Rapid Home Test Kits are available for pickup, while supplies last. (One test kit per person).

More information: https://www.aahealth.org/rapidcovidtests

Face Masks and Coverings Frequently Asked Questions

NOTE: Face mask recommendations and other COVID prevention recommendations are based on the county’s case rate which determines the Level of Community Transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


2.15.22County Executive Announces Mask Requirement in County-Owned Buildings Will End on Feb. 22

1.28.22 – Anne Arundel County’s Public Safety Order Will Expire on January 31 as Scheduled
1.7.22Health Officer Issues Public Safety Order Continuing Face Covering Requirement
12.30.21Anne Arundel County County Executive Order Number 56 – To Require Face Coverings in Certain Areas of the County
12.20.21Department of Health Strongly Advises Businesses and Public to Wear Face Masks Indoors
7.1.21 – Maryland Department of Health Face Covering Recommendation (PDF)

COVID-19 vaccinations are the best way to prevent COVID-19 illness. For vaccine information, visit aahealth.org/covidvaccines. In public settings where some people are not vaccinated, wearing a face mask helps to prevent virus spread


To maximize protection from the COVID variants and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public regardless of vaccination status. Face masks are required in health care facilities and on public transportation.  Wearing a mask is the best way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible and do not let your guard down.

WHO SHOULD NOT Wear a Mask:

  • Children under age 2. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Anyone who has a disability that prevents wearing a mask. People with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are able to request reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks work best when everyone wears them, but not all masks provide the same protection. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has.  

A well fitting mask should:

  • Have two or more layers of washable, breathable material.
  • Completely cover your nose and mouth.
  • Fit snugly against the sides of your face with no gaps.
  • Have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.  

What is the Best Face Mask to Use?

Given how contagious most COVID variants are, some experts are encouraging people to upgrade from a cloth mask to an KN95, N95 or surgical mask when in public indoor spaces. These masks are made of material with an electrostatic charge, which can help prevent a person from inhaling virus particles.

N95

  • The gold standard of face coverings in the medical world, and even in the construction industry. 
  • Regulated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 
  • The edges are designed to fit snugly to your face.
  • Must be formally fitted for proper fit. 
  • Rated to filter out 95 percent of very small particles.
  • The general public shouldn’t wear them in order to reserve supplies for health care workers and medical first responders.  
  • Not for use by children.

KN95

  • Best protection against COVID-19. 
  • Closely related to N95s. 
  • Regulated by the Chinese Government. 
  • The edges are designed to fit snugly to your face.
  • Rated to filter out 95 percent of very small particles.

ALERT – Counterfeit (fake) KN95 respirators

  • BE AWARE: About 60% of KN95 respirators in the United States are counterfeit (fake) and DO NOT meet NIOSH requirements.
  • A webpage and a webinar are available about factors to consider when purchasing an international respirator.

Disposable Masks

Disposable face masks are widely available. They are sometimes referred to as surgical masks or medical procedure masks.

Wear disposable masks with:

    • A proper fit over your nose and mouth to prevent leaks
    • Multiple layers of non-woven material
  • Nose wire

Cloth Masks

Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics and many types of cloth masks are available.

Wear cloth masks with:

  • A proper fit over your nose and mouth to prevent leaks
  • Multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric
  • Nose wire
  • Fabric that blocks light when held up to bright light source

Ways to have better fit and extra protection with cloth and disposable masks:

  • Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top) to create a tighter fit.
  • Combine either a cloth mask or disposable mask with a fitter or brace.

  • Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask.
      • For disposable masks, fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges. (For instructions, see the following https://youtu.be/GzTAZDsNBe0)

  • Use masks that attach behind the neck and head with either elastic bands or ties (instead of ear loops)

Glasses. You can eliminate glasses from fogging up by using soapy water. Wash glasses and leave them to air dry. The soap leaves behind a thin film that builds a fog barrier, helping you to see better. Also, make sure your mask fits snuggly, especially at the top. (AARP)

Anxiety About Wearing a Face Mask. Wearing a face mask in public can reduce anxiety because it lowers your risk for infection, but for some, it significantly increases their anxiety from claustrophobic feelings or associating it with the situations where it should be worn because they are where the risk of infection increases. Try wearing the face mask at home for an hour while doing something you find relaxing to become comfortable with it and focus on how it will reduce the risk of infection when you wear it. If your anxiety persists consider getting help. Call 211 and press 1, text 898-211, visit pressone.211md.org, or chat confidentially for information about local services and programs.

Mask Storage and Cleaning

Storing and Cleaning Fabric/Reusable Face Masks

  • Cleaning: Fabric face masks should be washed between use with hot water and regular detergent. Dry completely on a high heat setting.
  • Storage: Clean masks and dirty masks should be stored separately.

Storing and Cleaning Paper Masks

  • Storage and Cleaning: At this time, paper masks should be discarded after use.

When to Replace or Throw Away a Mask

  • Face masks should be thrown away if they are damaged or if they are hard to breathe through.
  • Face masks should be changed when saturated from condensation build up from breathing or after you believe your mask has become contaminated.

Prevention Recommendations

General Guidance for Respiratory Etiquette and Prevention
Face masks are not a substitute for other infection control efforts, such as getting vaccinated, washing your hands and social distancing. Masks may be effective in reminding others to respect social distancing guidelines.

COVID-19 vaccinations are available. Sign up for Anne Arundel County Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine clinics at https://aacounty.org/covidvax.

The CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, even if you are wearing a mask.
  • Stay home when you are sick and get tested and isolate while waiting for results.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

CDC Resources

COVID-19 Contact Information

Visit the Department of Health at www.aahealth.org/COVID-19 for more COVID-19 health information. The Anne Arundel County COVID-19 webpage at www.aacounty.org/coronavirus has general information on county level efforts and resources.
If you have more questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, call the COVID-19 Health Line at 410-222-7256 or email covid19info@aacounty.org.

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